Her blond hair

It’s the first Wednesday of the month again, time for a post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group.
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I decided to forgo this month’s optional question, because I’ve already talked about my reading preferences in several previous posts. Instead, I want to concentrate on character descriptions.

Many writers describe their characters in exhaustive details. Some put a character in front of a mirror. Others make those descriptions from the omniscient author’s POV. The best, especially in romance novels, use another person and describe the heroine as seen through his eyes. But is any of it necessary?

Let’s talk about the mirror scene. How often do you stand in front of the mirror to brush your hair and think: my blond hair is curly and my blue eyes twinkle? I would guess the answer is never. Well, maybe once, before your prom dance.

Besides, what does it matter? How does your blond hair affect your life? It doesn’t, except for one possible scenario: when you’re an actress, going for an audition, and the role demands a blonde. But even then, you could use a wig, right?

Other writers, not just me, care about this aspect of fiction writing. In their joined blog, two bestselling authors, Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer, touched on this topic very convincingly a few months ago.

Bob: One thing I have a hard time with is character descriptions. It’s not like we’re writing a personal ad. I like to keep any physical description to one line at most. Beyond that, I prefer to let the reader come up with their own mental image from what the character says and does.
Unless there’s something specific and different about the character I don’t care what they look like. Which is interesting, because if you think about a movie, casting is everything.

Jenny: I don’t care about physical descriptions at all, and I’m skeptical that readers do, since they tend to design the characters in their minds as they read. I wrote a character with a mustache once, and I got letters that said, “In my version of this book, Jake does not have a mustache.” Won’t make that mistake again.

Jenny: Eye color has had exactly zero impact on my life. Why do I need to know what color my protagonist’s eyes are?

The need to describe a character only arises when the outer parameters of a character affect the story. In the latest T. Kingfisher’s fantasy novel, Paladin’s Strength, the heroine is a big and strong woman, and her size makes a difference to the story. Some of her actions would’ve been impossible if she were a dainty waif, so the description makes sense. And to answer the inevitable question,  the author described her through the second protagonist’s eyes. No mirrors.

Lately, I’ve stopped describing my characters, unless it is somehow related to the story. In my short story included in the upcoming IWSG anthology, Dark Matter: Artificial, I didn’t describe my protagonist because her eye color or hair length have “zero impact” on my story, just as Cruise said.

Do you describe your characters? What method do you use? Why is it important to you? Tell me in the comments.

Posted in Insecure Writer's Support Group, Olga Godim, Writing | Tagged , , , | 16 Comments

Happy 65 with books

I turn 65 today, on Feb 20, 2021. To celebrate my birthday, I made myself a birthday card.

The reading woman doesn’t look exactly like me, but that’s how you could more often than not find me – with a good book and my head in the air with stories.

Happy birthday, Olga. Good reading to you for years to come.

Posted in Olga Godim, Reading | Tagged , , , | 7 Comments

WEP Feb 2021 – The Kiss

A new year – a new series for WEP. By now, it has become a personal challenge for me to write interlinked flash stories for every prompt of the year. This year, I came up with a sci-fi series about a young cadet of the Fleet Academy, Neville Ranen. He has one year of the Academy left before graduating and becoming a full-fledged officer of the Federation Space Fleet, when an unexpected calamity turned his world upside down. And all because of a kiss. This story is my answer to the Feb 2021 challenge.

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Cadet Neville Ranen stared at the wall behind the admiral’s left shoulder. His bruises ached. One of his eyes wouldn’t open to more than a slit, and his cut lip stung. His only consolation was that his adversary, Peterson, looked worse.

“Well,” the admiral drawled. “I have already heard two different versions of the events, by Cadets Peterson and Grant. What is yours, Cadet Ranen?”

“Sir?” Surprised, Neville glanced at the admiral’s spacer-pale face, creased with wrinkles. He didn’t expect the question. He had attacked his classmate Peterson when he noticed the cad pawing one of the freshmen girls, Grace Grant, in a deserted corridor. Grace had been resisting, trying to extricate herself from the unwanted kisses, pummeling Peterson with her small fists, but Peterson was bigger, stronger, better trained, and obviously set on conquest. So Neville had waded in. Now he steeled himself to pay the price. Peterson was a Fleet brat, a son of a highly decorated Fleet captain. Neville was a son of a farmer from a distant colony. He didn’t think anyone would be interested in his explanations.

But the old admiral, the Academy Superintendent, looked amused, his sharp eyes twinkling. Easy for you to be amused, old goat, Neville thought angrily. His whole life was on the line. If the Academy expelled him, what would he do? He didn’t want to go back to his father’s farm. Perhaps he could find a job here, on the station? His three years of the Academy training must count for something. But first, he would try to save his position at the Academy. He didn’t like ratting out another cadet, even a swine like Peterson, but he didn’t have a choice.

“I saw Cadet Peterson assaulting Cadet Grant,” he said woodenly. “She obviously didn’t want his amorous attentions, she was struggling, sir. Trying to call for help, but he covered her mouth … with his. I interfered.”

“Successfully, I take it. You broke his collarbone and his wrist,” the admiral pointed out.

“He wouldn’t stop fighting,” Neville said. “I had to finish the fight as speedily as possible.”

“You’ve had a number of disciplinary infractions over the years, Cadet, but as far as I understand, all of them were pranks, until now,” the admiral said.

Neville didn’t respond. There was nothing to say.

The admiral sighed. “Cadet Grant’s version was identical to yours, Ranen. She was properly grateful. I don’t approve of cadets brawling, but a sexual assault against another cadet is a violation of the Fleet code. Because of that, Cadet Peterson has been expelled. You, on the other hand, represent a quandary. I can’t leave you unpunished. I’m suspending your Academy training for one year. You have a choice. During the suspension year, you can go home or find a job on the civilian side of the station. Or I can assign you to a ship – not as an officer, as you’re not yet qualified for any officer’s posting, but perhaps as an enlisted. To do whatever the captain says. What is your preference?”

“A ship,” Neville said without hesitation. He wanted to stay in the Fleet, even if he had to clean latrines for the next year.

“A ship it is.” The admiral nodded. “The Mariposa. She is in dock eight. Report to Captain Moss by tonight. I’m transferring your file now. Dismissed.”

Neville saluted and left, his heart thumping. The last thing he saw as he turned was the old admiral grinning evilly. The Mariposa captain must not be a forgiving fellow, but Neville would endure his year of suspension. And then he would come back to the Academy and finish his training. He would be a Fleet officer one day.

Two hours later, he stood in front of the Mariposa captain and thought he might have made a mistake after all by choosing the ship duty. His brief research of the Fleet database had identified Captain Anna Moss as the commander of the deep space resupply vessel Mariposa. A huge cargo ship, Mariposa carried armaments and machinery wherever the Fleet needed. But not for the next while.

“We have been detailed to help with the evacuation of Tarius Destra,” Moss said. She sprawled in her office chair and regarded Neville with the eyes that didn’t miss much. “You know what happened there?”

“Yes, ma’am,” Neville said. “Some kind of astrographic disaster. Everyone who survived has to be transported somewhere else.”

The captain nodded. “Every colony in the galaxy offered a quota of refugees they’re willing to accept. The Mariposa will carry people to Simel, as many trips as needed. We have ample space for the passengers, several thousands per trip, but a very small crew: the bridge team, the two engineers, and a medic aka cook. You’re going to be a big help, Cadet. I’m assigning you to be my deputy, my liaison with the passengers.”

“A deputy? You mean like … a policeman?”

“Exactly. You’ll patrol the cargo holds with the refugees and see what needs to be done. If a group of teenagers gets antsy, make up an occupation for them. I don’t know, a sporting competition. If a toddler gets lost, find him. If some adults stir trouble, try to keep it from escalating. Talk to people. Reassure them. And report to me.”

Neville gulped. Him a peacemaker? “I don’t think I’m qualified, ma’am,” he said faintly. “At the Academy, I was a troublemaker.”

“I know. Your file is extensive. Unfortunately, I can’t spare anyone else. The bridge officers are irreplaceable. You can’t perform their duties; you’re not qualified either. The medic will do her job: among thousands of refugees, someone is bound to get ill. And the engineers are already working overtime. We have to upgrade our air recycling system from handling a small crew of fifteen to several thousand people aboard. I’m not even talking about the toilet recycling.” She winced.

Neville felt entrapped. “Nobody will listen to me. They’d say: ‘That silly boy.’”

“No. You’ll be in uniform. We’ll all be in uniform, instantly recognizable for as long as we carry passengers.” She looked down at her dark green, totally un-regulation T-short with a golden dragon print and snorted. “More is the pity. But unavoidable in this case. And you’ll have a sidearm – a stunner. Use it if you have to. I’ll back you, Cadet. Publicly. I might rake you privately later, of course.” Her lips twitched. “But as long as you don’t kill anyone, I’ll back you. Remember: these people are hurting, traumatized. They’ve lost everything. They are going into the unknown. Be kind … if you can.”

“Yes, ma’am,” Neville croaked. Nothing else he could say. But him a policeman? It sounded surreal. He had never been so terrified in his life. It would’ve been so much easier to clean latrines. Even for several thousand people. He grimaced at the thought.

“Do your best, Cadet. For now, until the passengers board, familiarize yourself with the ship. Dismissed.”   

 

Posted in Olga Godim, science fiction, WEP | Tagged , , , | 21 Comments

My friends from WEP

It’s the first Wednesday of the month again, time for a post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group.
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FEBRUARY QUESTION: Blogging is often more than just sharing stories. It’s often the start of special friendships and relationships. Have you made any friends through the blogosphere?

MY ANSWER: Yes. I consider the admin team of the WEP blog hop my online friends. I started writing for WEP in 2015. Next year, I joined the admin team of the site as their ‘art director’, the one who has been making all their badges since. And I kept writing for WEP. Both my flash fiction writing for the site and my badge-making experience have been an exciting online adventure and a steep learning curve for me. In the process, the ladies of the team – Denise Covey, Yolanda Renee, Laura Keltner, and Nilanjana Bose – have become my friends.

You all know the saying: A friend in need is a friend indeed. Recently, I was very sick, and all of them, my internet friends, were very concerned for me. They inundated me with good wishes, maybe even a few prayers, and even sent me a gift through PayPal. And I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to them here.

♥ ♥ ♥  Thank you, my friends!  ♥ ♥ ♥

All five of us are different women: by our cultural heritages, our ages and family situations, our home countries, and our writing preferences. We might never meet in person, but the internet brought us close. In fact, the only true difference I see between me and my friends from WEP is that they all four use Blogspot as their blogging platform, while I use WordPress. Otherwise, we are all writers, women, and citizens of the world.

What about you? Has one particular internet site or blog hop become a vehicle for your friendships? Tell me in the comments.

Posted in Insecure Writer's Support Group, Olga Godim, WEP, Writing | Tagged , , , , | 27 Comments

I must like the protagonist

It’s the first Wednesday of the month again, time for a post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group.
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JANUARY QUESTION: Being a writer, when you’re reading someone else’s work, what stops you from finishing a book/throws you out of the story/frustrates you the most about other people’s books?

MY ANSWER: the crucial aspect of fiction for me is the characters. If I dislike the protagonist in a story I read, I rarely finish that story. One of the human traits that most often throws me out of a story is stupidity. I can’t abide stupid behavior (which for some reason frequently happens in romance novels). I also dislike alcoholics and drug addicts. I don’t want anything to do with them in real life and I don’t want to read about them in fiction. Otherwise, it is case by case.

Sometimes, a writer is wonderful, and I enjoy some of their books, but can’t read others because the leading character repulses me.

Writing textbooks and writing teachers all give the same advice: make your protagonist flawed. And young writers usually comply. They invent flaws for their protagonists. Such an approach to writing turns me off. I never do that in my own fiction. If my protagonists are flawed, their flaws grow organically. They are never invented or applied arbitrary. Truth to tell, I try to write my heroes as perfect as I can, totally likable, although they never come out that way. There is always something problematic in their psyche or their decision-making.

Most often, to achieve their goals, my heroes lie. Their lies don’t hurt anyone except the bad guys, but many people consider the ability (and sometimes inclination) to lie as a character flaw. I wonder if my predilection to solve my fictional problems with lies says something about me as an author and a person? Caveat: I don’t usually lie in my real life.

What about you? What character flaws creep up in your fiction repeatedly?

Posted in Insecure Writer's Support Group, Olga Godim, Reading, Writing | Tagged , , , | 21 Comments

Happy New Year 2021

Happy New Year to all my friends. Let your 2021 be better than 2020. Stay healthy. Find your balance. Keep writing. Smile often. I want to thank you for all the support you’ve shown me during 2020 and I want to see your smiles, so I made a card for you.

To continue with the reindeer theme of this post, here is another media to tickle your humorous bone, especially you, my friends from Oz. Sung by The Drifters. Cartoon by Joshua Held. Aren’t these caroling reindeer fun to watch?

Olga

Posted in Olga Godim, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

IWSG & WEP Dec 2020 – Unmasked

It’s the first Wednesday of the month again, time for a post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group.
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This month, I’m going to combine my IWSG post with my WEP post. Usually, the blog hop WEP participants post their themed stories on the 3rd Wednesday of the month, but this December, the WEP admin team decided to forgo a formal challenge (because of all the political and social upheavals of this year and all the health issues so many of us battled) and just post our stories on the theme Unmasked. Sort-of an unstructured and undemanding challenge.

Like all my other WEP stories this year, this story is about the paper mage Monette and her magic agency, Small Magics, in Vancouver, Canada. Monette’s previous magic adventures are here:
Feb challenge – Café Terrace
Apr challenge – Antique Vase
Jun challenge – Urban Nightmare
Aug challenge – Long Shadow
Oct challenge – Grave Mistake
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Monette gazed at Zack, her new client. He asked her on the phone to come to his place. Now she knew why. He wore old jeans and a black sweatshirt, but his face was covered by a beautiful old mask. It left only his mouth, eyes, and nostrils bare. Feathers, crystal beads, and golden filigree intertwined in a gorgeous pattern all over his face, from his hairline to his chin, and the magical runes glittered malevolently between the innocent ornaments. Even from across the coffee table, she could feel the magical effluvia and the ill intent of the mask towards its wearer.

“What happened?” she asked quietly.

“It wouldn’t come off,” Zack said. “I found it last year on a trip to Europe. In an antique shop. I put it on for our office Christmas party yesterday, for a lark, and now the f#@$ing thing wouldn’t come off. I couldn’t sleep all night, and now my face is tingling, probably from some … f#@$ing glue.”

“No. From magic,” Monette said. “You did right to call in a magician. This mask is magical, and it means you harm.”

“Why?”

“I don’t know. It feels like a curse, but I doubt it was directed at you personally.”

He swore. “Could you get it off?” He sounded angry and helpless, which sat oddly with his broad shoulders, muscled forearms, and a general air of self-assurance surrounding him. This man wasn’t used to being helpless.

“I’ll try,” Monette said. Ideas swirled in her head. The magic of the mask felt very powerful, much stronger than hers. She wouldn’t be able to negate its hateful spell, but she might be able to trick it. “Do you have a good quality head shot? As recent as possible.”

“Yes, on my phone.”

“No.” Monette shook her head. “I need a paper copy. I’m a paper mage. Send me several of your best photos by email. I’ll make a paper copy and come back in a couple hours. I need some supplies to make it work.”

Zack nodded, his strong fingers already flying over his phone’s keypad. “I’m not going anywhere. Not in this f#@$ing abomination.”

Deep in thought, Monette left Zack’s luxurious apartment in one of the downtown high-rises and drove to her home in a much less affluent neighborhood. She didn’t pay attention to the city, decked out in all its holiday finery. She was contemplating the malicious spell attached to the mask and what she could do to erase it.

Spellingra, her talking grimoire, wasn’t sanguine either, when Monette outlined her problem, but the book obediently opened up at the section of removal spells. “Erasing that mask might not help,” Spellingra warned, its pages susurrating in distress. “He wears a mask on the inside. That’s why the feathered one stuck on the outside.”

“I know. I’ll have to tell him,” Monette said glumly. She wasn’t looking forward to that conversation. She rather liked the guy, mask and all.

At a neighborhood self-serve photo place, she made a large portrait of Zack on the most expensive glossy paper they had, collected her crayons and a copy of the erasure spell, and drove back to Zack’s three hours later.

“Before I try to remove the mask, I need to draw it on your portrait,” she explained. “Please, sit down, Zack.”

His lips twitched, but he didn’t contradict her. He sat in an easy chair, facing the wall of windows for the best light. Monette placed his portrait on a table in front of her. She used her colored crayons to draw the mask on the portrait in all its elaborate details. The crayons were a special variety, imported from Italy, and super expensive. She didn’t use them often, but she needed them now: they were erasable.

“I hope you know what you’re doing,” he remarked.

“Magic is never one hundred percent certain,” Monette replied absently, trying to match the color nuances and lines of the mask exactly. “But so far, I haven’t failed a client.”

“Good to know.”

Monette, absorbed in her work, didn’t reply. Zack fell silent too. After she was done, she drew the erasure spell in black ink all around the mask. The spell’s diagram burst into a glow as soon as the last line connected, and Monette realized that the winter dusk already settled over the city. She had to turn on the lights for the next, the trickiest part of her manipulation.

“Tell me if it hurts,” she said. “I’ll try to be as careful as I can.”

“That’s not reassuring,” he said dryly but he didn’t move from his chair.

Monette picked up her eraser, poured her magic into it, and gently rubbed at the mask on her portrait, starting at Zack’s hairline.

He sucked in his breath. “It doesn’t hurt, but it is unpleasant,” he said.

“I know. Sorry.” She continued erasing, not looking at him at all, her full attention on her masterpiece. His forehead emerged first, as the eraser removed a portion of her drawing. His temples cleared up next. His cheeks and a strong line of his jaw. His nose. And finally, the sensitive area around his eyes. He was breathing deeply by now, but he didn’t complain.

“Done,” she said finally and blew the erased crumbs off the photo. She swiped her hand over the photograph to remove every tiny bit. When the last one fell off, her spell diagram winked out, even though the eraser didn’t touch it. The photo under her fingertips didn’t feel as smooth as before – the eraser had done its job – but it didn’t feel too bad. She lifted her eyes.

His face was puffy and pink, but even so, he looked gorgeous, better than on the photo.

“Sorry,” she said again and winced. “I couldn’t help it. You’ll need to apply some lotion for a day or two to deal with the irritation from my eraser.”

Without speaking, he jumped up and disappeared into his washroom. He came out a few moments later.

“Thank you,” he said. His smile blazed. “I never thought I would ever need a magician, thought they were all charlatans, but obviously not.”

Monette sighed. “A bit of a damper, Zack. This mask is an old and powerful spell. I removed its outer manifestation, but I can’t remove the spell itself. I doubt any magician can. It’s attached itself to you, put its hook into you, because you already wear a mask, pretend to be what you are not. I don’t know what you’re or what you do. It’s not my business, but I have to warn you: if you don’t stop wearing your inner mask, this outer one will come back. Not right away, maybe, but in a month, or a year. You have to … unmask yourself to be free of this spell.” She shrugged apologetically. “Sorry.”

He stared at her, his grin dimming. “F#@$,” he said.
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Could you speculate what kind of a mask Zack is wearing in real life? Is he a sensitive artist pretending to be a ruthless businessman? Is he a cold-blooded killer masquerading as a friendly neighbor? Is he an industrial spy? A robot? A magician denying his magic? Tell me in the comments.

Posted in Insecure Writer's Support Group, Olga Godim, WEP, Writing | Tagged , , , , | 30 Comments

Writing to entertain

It’s the first Wednesday of the month again, time for a post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group.
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NOVEMBER QUESTION: Albert Camus once said, “The purpose of a writer is to keep civilization from destroying itself.” Flannery O’Connor said, “I write to discover what I know.” Authors across time and distance have had many reasons to write. Why do you write what you write?

MY ANSWER: Obviously, I’m not as profound as either of the writers quoted in the question. I write speculative fiction, usually light-hearted, sometimes infused with dry humor. Ask my readers from the WEP community, and they might tell you more about my stories and my characters. Some of them laugh at my stories, which makes me happy.

As to why I write this type of fiction: because that’s what I want to read, and this kind of stories are hard to find in speculative fiction. Lots of speculative fiction writers these days write dark, psychological tales of wars and conflict, of fighting and struggling and hopelessness. They write about deeply flawed heroes and lightless corners of the human psyche. I don’t like such stories. I don’t read them and I don’t write them. Instead, I read simply to entertain myself, and I write for the same purpose: to entertain myself and my readers. I want my readers to smile and relax and forget their troubles for as long as it takes them to read my stories.

Posted in Insecure Writer's Support Group, Olga Godim, Writing | Tagged , , | 19 Comments

WEP Oct 2020 – Grave Mistake

Here is one more story about Monette, the paper mage and owner of the magic agency Small Magics. She operates in the alternative Vancouver, Canada. You can find Monette’s previous magic adventures here:

Feb challenge – Café Terrace

Apr challenge – Antique Vase

Jun challenge – Urban Nightmare

Aug challenge – Long Shadow

This story is my entry for the WEP October 2020 challenge.

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“What can Small Magics do for you, Mr. Galanis?” Monette asked her visitor.

The man sat in the client chair on the other side of her desk, his dark eyes watchful. “My problem is … unusual,” he said. “I seem to have misplaced my grandfather’s … corpse.” He grimaced apologetically.

Monette’s eyebrows shot up. “Corpse?” she said faintly.

“Yes, well. My ancestors came to Canada from Greece a hundred years ago, when the Turks started killing Greeks there.”

Monette nodded in encouragement.

“My great-grandfather was a jeweler, but he couldn’t take much with him during their escape. He buried most of his gold and gems and made a map of the location. He took that map with him, together with the ownership documents. He hoped to return to Greece later to retrieve his property, but it never happened. The documents passed on to his son, my grandfather. They should’ve come to my father afterwards. My father and I decided that I should go to Greece next summer and try to find the family treasure. Meanwhile, two weeks ago, my grandfather died. He was almost ninety. My grandma is the same age and …” He signed. “She dressed her husband for the burial in his best suit and put the documents in his inner breast pocket. We didn’t know. We went on with the funeral.”

“Oh, dear,” Monette murmured. “I’m sorry. Couldn’t you, I don’t know … ask some authorities to exhume the body?”

He snorted. “We have, as soon as we found out. But the problem is – it wasn’t his body inside the coffin. Something went wrong at the funeral house. There were eight funerals that day, all of them in similar coffins, but buried at three different cemeteries. Someone made a mistake. We don’t know where my grandfather is. And we can’t ask to exhume all seven other bodies. Maybe one, if we know for sure, but not all.”

“Of course, not,” Monette said. “But I don’t know what I can do. I’m a paper mage. Maybe someone from a bigger agency would be of more help.”

“I contacted two of the largest magic agencies in Vancouver before I called you,” Galanis said. “They both asked for thirty percent of the cost of recovered jewels on top of their hourly fees. Your website promises flat fees. We are willing to pay a bonus, if we are able to find the jewelry, but thirty percent is too much. Besides, as you say, you’re a paper mage. The documents and the map are paper.”

Monette stared at him. “I need to think,” she said at last.

“Of course. Phone me.” Galanis shook her hand, and the office door closed behind him.

Monette rushed upstairs to her apartment and went straight to her talking grimoire Spellingra, a huge book of spells she had inherited from her witch great aunt. The book lay open on its stand, absorbing the moist, diffused sunlight from the window.

“Hello, Spellingra.” Monette tapped a finger on the book in greeting and outlined her problem.

“Searching for a Greek corpse.” Spellingra chortled. A bunch of its pages rose up defiantly and flopped against each other, as if applauding.

“Searching for a map and a document,” Monette shot back. “And he is willing to pay a bonus. I need a search spell.”

“Thirsty,” said Spellingra. One of its empty pages snapped up suddenly, its sharp edge slicing a shallow cut on Monette’s palm before she could react.

“You sneak!” Monette squeaked and snatched her injured hand away. “You should’ve asked.” Grumbling about the impudence of bloodthirsty spell books, she smeared the blood from the cut on the waiting page.

The page made a slurping sound, and the blood disappeared. “More fun this way,” said Spellingra. Its pages riffed rapidly, as if a strong wind browsed them, until everything stilled.

Monette read the spells on the open pages. When she came to the last one, she grinned.

“Yes! Thank you, Spellingra. Just what I needed.”

She called the client the next morning to meet in the afternoon. Then she went to the nearest dollar store and bought a paper kite and a set of colored paper ribbons. After slavishly copying the complex diagram of the search spell from Spellingra onto the kite, she glued on two ribbons, blue and red, as the kite’s double tails.

When Galanis came through the door, even before they signed the contract, she grilled him on the most important issue.

“You saw the documents and the map, I assume?”

“Of course. Many times.”

“I need words included in either. As many exact words as you can remember. I have to write them down in my search spell.”

“It’s all in Greek.”

“Doesn’t matter. As long as the spelling is correct. Write them down in random order.” She pushed a sheet of paper towards him and copied over twenty words he had written onto the ribbons attached to the kite.

“Let’s go,” she said as soon as they signed the contract. “We’ll take my car.”

Outside, she blew her magic at the kite to activate the spell and sent it into the sky. “Search,” she ordered.

The kite soared and headed east. She followed in the car, her magical strings tying her to the kite stronger than any physical string could be.

The kite’s first stop was the Vancouver Public Library. “Of course,” Monette said with chuckle and sent a new pulse of magic to the kite. “Search again, darling.”  

The kite’s second stop was a cemetery. It came down to rest on a temporary wooden marker atop a fresh grave.

“Your documents are here,” Monette said happily. As always, a well-executed spell filled her with elation. “I’ll write you a report when I get home. You could take it to the judge as proof.”

“A kite,” said Galanis, eyeing the kite with interest.

“Paper magic,” Monette corrected primly. “Like a magic Google. I’ll have to fix my website to include a percentage in cases like yours. For the next time.”    

Posted in Olga Godim, WEP | Tagged , , | 26 Comments

I’m a journalist

It’s the first Wednesday of the month again, time for a post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group.
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For the first time ever since I joined the IWSG blog hop, I forgot the posting day. My excuse: I had a doctor’s appointment this morning. I hope it is not too late to post now, even though I live in Vancouver, on the West Coast of Canada. It’s only 12pm here, but most of the other people in the blog hop have already passed their midday, and maybe entered the night.
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OCTOBER QUESTION: When you think of the term working writer, what does that look like to you? What do you think it is supposed to look like? Do you see yourself as a working writer or aspiring or hobbyist, and if latter two, what does that look like?

MY ANSWER: I’m a freelance writer, a journalist. I suppose, it qualifies me as a working writer, although part-time only.

I recently saw this quote about freelance writers and can’t refrain from sharing it.

The freelance writer is a man who is paid per piece or per word or perhaps.

~ Robert Benchley

Benchley’s definition fits, even though he only mentions men. But then he died in 1945, so perhaps equality in journalism was an unfamiliar concept to him. I won’t hold it against the guy.

I write for a small local newspaper, have been writing for them since 2007. They pay me per piece (Yay, Benchley!) And despite the COVID and my personal struggles with breast cancer this summer, I’m still writing for them. I just finished an article about an art show in our Jewish Community Centre. That is my beat: art and artists in Vancouver. I know the topic and I love the artists.

I also write fiction, but that doesn’t pay nearly as well as my journalistic endeavors. Sometimes not at all. Alas. I would prefer the opposite ratio, but as a realist, I take what I can get.

Posted in Insecure Writer's Support Group, Olga Godim, Writing | Tagged , , , | 21 Comments